Sunday, June 20, 2010

Returned. Just in time for the summer solstice.

Scenes from Lake Harriet, Minneapolis

Lee and I arrived in Minneapolis yesterday after three rather chaotic days in New York. On Wednesday night, about 20 of the parents in Lee's class hosted a lovely dinner for us at Girasole on East 82nd near 3rd Avenue. It was so touching. I will write more about it later. The wine flowed. And so did the tears.

On Thursday, our new friends, Esmeralda and Jordie, arrived from Barcelona to use our apartment for 10 days. (We used theirs in Barcelona at Christmas - part of a remarkably good idea - Home Exchanges.) They each arrived with only a small carry on. How is this possible??

Then, on July 1, we have a friend using the apartment for July and August. This meant that the refrigerator must be purged of anything currently moldy or potentially moldy. It meant that the bathroom sparkled, the down comforter was cleaned, the closets were emptied. We filled four suitcases, two backpacks, and two large totes. We schlepped them to our dear friend Andrew and Rob's apartment on East 86th and camped out on their air mattress for the next two nights, digging for something unwrinkled to wear each day out of the over-stuffed luggage. Impossible. I looked like a bag lady for two days.

Yesterday, we came home. I had an upgrade on my seat - it was a Saturday - and business class not so full. Well, who wouldn't love to travel first class? Of course I do, but I would never pay for it. But...Lee...he LOVES it! (Still would never pay for it.) He did not get upgraded because he used miles to get his ticket. SO I had this exquisite power to wheel and deal for this seat - we had more than our share of laughs and in in the end, he agreed to everything I requested. I won't tell you here. Wink. Wink. But life is looking good.

He got seat 2A. I got 7D. And I was happy as a clam with my peanuts and water while he had his chicken wrap and a vodka tonic. I'm so glad I am not high maintenance. :-)

I have lots to write about. I'll save it for later this week. Happy Summer!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Alice's Tea Shop

Lee and I went to a little tea shop on the Upper East Side for breakfast yesterday - Alice's Tea Shop (as in Alice in Wonderland)to celebrate the end of the school year. It is on East 81st between 3rd and 2nd and we walked right by Madonna's new home on the way. We were hoping to run into her and welcome her to the hood. It was a very sweet idea, this little tea shop. Minneapolis should do one - somewhere there are lots of kids. Happily, it was also delicious. They are known for their scones and even use them in place of an English muffin for their "benedicts" - I had Eggs Florentine on a buttermilk scone with rosemary hollandaise. Just yummy and about 3 times more than I could eat. We shared a pot of tea - "Drink Me"- a nice detox thing and realized how frivolous and wonderful it is to go out to breakfast on a weekday morning.

The interior was magical. For children, they have fairy wings, dress up clothes, painted sayings on the walls and butterflies on the ceilings. Good idea. Well executed.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Central Park looking toward the Upper West Side.

So, here we are at another crossroad. Lee and I are the King and Queen of Crossroads. We know how to do change. But it doesn't mean it is easy.

We have spent the past two years jetting back and forth between New York and Minneapolis. Two weeks here, two weeks there. Many tell me I have the perfect life, the best of both worlds, living an ideal model for marriage. It is not as easy or as perfect as it might sound. It is expensive, for one. Lee and I have missed each other more and more over this time, since we have essentially lived apart since the fall of 2004, for another. Especially when you just need to look at each other in the morning over cappuccino to come up with Plan B. Recently we have synched our lives so that, when I am in Minneapolis, we "meet" for coffee every morning on Skype. It means I am up at 5:45.

I've even gotten really good at flying, something that terrified me only six years ago. I know LaGuardia like it was my childhood home, have learned what time of the week to fly, especially the times that give me an upgrade and a Greek chicken salad on the flight. I know how to tell the cabbie my address so he understands it. I know how to pack so my suitcase can be carried, not fork-lifted, to the fourth floor. I have learned how to be a traveler and to live, really live, in two places.

What I have noticed is that I am basically a happy person. I can live in either place, fully. When I am in Minneapolis, I am blown away by the people. I have both old friends and new. I have family. And I have the most wonderful, accommodating clients - friends, really. They have allowed me this crazy schedule and, in the end, it has been good for all of us. I love my apartment, my tasteful landlord, Duncan, my housekeeper, Dina, who has worked with me for fourteen years. I love the light in the apartment and the fireplace. I love the coop where I shop, my Lake Harriet where I walk, and my Episcopal cathedral, St. Mark's, where I find quiet and peace and occasionally remember grace.

But, I now face leaving New York in a couple of months and I am so sad, I can't keep the tears out of my eyes. Last night at Beyoglu, our favorite and inexpensive local spot, sitting on the sidewalk on 3rd Avenue, people, people, people walking by, pushing babies, holding hands, dressed in the most outrageous and beautiful ways. City workers were cleaning up from a street fair. As I was scrolling through iphoto last night, the menagerie of images of our life here silenced me - Central Park throughout the seasons, dinners concocted in our impossibly tiny kitchen, design days with Anna. I love the life of this city. I love touching the people - metaphorically and even bumping into them physically on the sidewalk, on the subway. I am a city girl - meant to be on my feet, not in a car. I love the diversity and I love what I have learned here. I dress differently, I see differently, I think differently, I write differently I am a better interior designer for my time here. I have grown to love the children in Lee's class and their extraordinarily loyal parents. I am never, ever bored. I have awakened here. In my 50's. And, it is looking like we will have to pull up anchor and head back to port - to Minneapolis - full time.

I will get over this loss. People get over a great deal more than saying good bye to a place - we lose people, too. There is no comparison, I know. But place has always, always been a North Star for me. It orients me. I know when I am home. I know when I am not. I have a distinct sense for direction and knowing when I am home. When I am not, I lose things, like keys and jewelry and thoughts. I lose myself. I have been at home in only a few places. On the farm in Iowa growing up. In Charleston, South Carolina, in Florence, Italy from the moment I stood on Via di Ginori and saw where we were staying for that month in 2006, and now I can say, in New York City.

Minneapolis will forever be the place I grew to love. It is not my native, spiritual home, but a place that is a safe port. And Minneapolis is about the people. I told that to a couple here in New York the other night - there is just something about the depth, intelligence, and integrity of the people in Minneapolis that is profound. And, now, with my sister, Holly, moving there, it will be only richer for me.

The end of this story is not yet written. I am mostly in denial about leaving New York for the summer. I can't even think about not returning this fall. Lee and I are very good about pulling rabbits out of hats, so who knows? A friend will use our apartment this summer, and we have people interested in subletting for the year while we return to port, to re-boot, re-fuel, and re-invent for the hundredth time.